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Press Release: One in 10 people have trust in what influencers post on social media

Did you know that only one in 10 people have trust in what influencers post on social media? Or that only 9% say they have greater trust in online advertising than advertising on TV, radio, in print and outdoors?

These are just two of the statistics that were revealed in recent research conducted by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) around consumer perception of influencer marketing.

The Advertising Standards Authority is the independent, self-regulatory body committed to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications in Ireland. The Advertising Standards Authority Code requires that advertising should be legal, decent, honest and truthful across all media including online, print, outdoor, TV and radio, as well as social media and influencer marketing.  It also requires that it should be clear when content is advertising content.

The Advertising Standards Authority regularly develops and updates guidance regarding advertising standards in Ireland, and in 2018, we published further clarification on how these rules apply to influencers and social media marketing. This has been shared and actively promoted in the media and online, with the aim of maximising awareness among consumers and advertisers. We’ve also held a series of informative events and webinars, created podcasts and conducted in-depth research. The most recent research, released in March of this year, indicated that there is a need for clarity for both consumers and influencers, particularly around labelling and correct ways to disclose advertisements, and the importance of influencers adhering to the Advertising Code.

Influencers need to be aware of when the Code applies to their posts. Not all content that mentions a brand and that is created by influencers is advertising.  But where it is advertising, it must be instantly recognisable by having clear and prominent labels such as #AD. This includes putting a disclosure or tag at the beginning of the content so it’s clear from the start that it’s a marketing communication as well as making sure they’re visible and legible. If you earn money from links or have an ongoing marketing relationship with a company, you must declare it on all content that mentions the brand.

Transparency and honesty in all advertising is key to building trust with the public. Complaints about influencer marketing to the ASAI can lead to a formal decision by our Complaints Committee and the publication of a Case report, setting out the details of each case. This means that the Influencer, as well as the brand, is named in the case details which are available on the ASAI website. This is part of the ASAI’s strict ‘name and shame’ policy. All cases are compiled into a complaints bulletin which is posted on the ASA website and issued to all major news outlets across print, online and broadcast media.

The ASA Complaints Committee have decided on a number of cases and some examples of their findings are described below.

In one case, involving a makeup tutorial which was sponsored by a beauty brand, the influencer had included commentary in the description of the YouTube video that they had teamed up with the brand.  After clicking on ‘Show More’ in the description under the video, readers would see at the very end that the video had been sponsored. This wasn’t considered proper disclosure as essentially you had to go looking for it. The ASA’s Complaints Committee considered that consumers should know prior to engaging with the content that it was a marketing communication, and in this case the video was amended to include ‘ad’ at the very beginning.

Affiliate links

An influencer included an affiliate link in a post.  Influencers earn commission if a consumer clicks on the link and ultimately purchases from the website they’re brought to.  The Committee considered that posts containing affiliate links were advertising, and that the influencer should make it clear to consumers that they were engaging with commercial content.

Brand ambassadors

An influencer, who was a brand ambassador posted a variety of content about one brand. Some of the posts were tagged as advertising and some not, as only some of the content had arisen from a direct request by the brand. The ASA considered however, that where an influencer was a brand ambassador, any content that referred to the brand should be tagged as advertising.


In another case, an influencer was able to show the ASA that they had added a disclosure to all parts of a story. However, on publishing the story, the disclosure in some parts had been obscured by the onscreen features such as ‘send message’ and where it was not obscured it wasn’t clearly visible. The Committee considered that the story had not clearly shown the disclosure due to the colour of the text against the background imagery as well as the onscreen features of the platform. They noted that the Code requirement did not just apply to the inclusion of the notification but to how clear the notification was.

It is important for brands and influencers to ensure that disclosures in influencer marketing communications must always be clear, legible, and visible. Paid promotional content must be disclosed across all posts on all platforms mentioning the brand and paid promotional disclosures must be immediately apparent to consumers engaging with the content.

In order to help continue to improve compliance in influencer marketing, consumer awareness and understanding in this area, the ASA is currently working with the CCPC on developing additional detailed guidance. We are also working closely with Coimisiún na Meán on relevant areas to develop a framework to support the highest standards of advertising in social media.

Influencer marketing is an area of significant importance for the ASA. The fundamental requirement for any advertising to be identifiable as such has been in existence for over 40 years. The ASA will continue our work in all media of communication to support high standards and to foster trust in advertising for all.

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